526 Religious Sects of Syria. [July,
heretics. They have their own feudal lords, have but little friendly
intercouse with others, and are exceedingly fierce and warlike. It is
said that nothing can induce them to eat or drink with those of another
religion. If a Christian chances to eat or drink out of one of their
metalic vessels, they invariably, before using it, subject it to a
thorough scouring, while an earthen vessel is, at once, dashed to
pieces as useless. If a stranger should even happen to touch their clothing, they look upon themselves as unclean until they have completed a process of purification.
The Deruz, commonly called Druzes, are
an energetic, warlike people, numbering about 100,000 souls. They
inhabit the mountains of Lebanon chiefly, though they are found
elsewhere. Formerly they were masters of Lebanon and the adjacent
coast, including Beirut as their most important port. But since the
late Emir Beshir, and some other leading princes, abandoned their
former religion and joined the Maronites, the latter have gradually
gained the ascendency, both in numbers and in power.
the religion of the Druzes, it is not safe to speak with confidence.
Hakim, an insane Khalif of Egypt, who ascended the throne a. d. 996,
is regarded as their founder, and, in some sense, also, their deity.
Their religion seems to be a compound of Muhammedanism, Judaism,
Christianity, and Paganism. They are known to worship the image of the
calf. But, except so far as it has been found out by accident, their
religion is a profound secret. Indeed, only a small number,
comparatively, of the nominal Druzes, the 'Akal (the initiated, or
knowing ones), understand the peculiarities of their own faith, while
the " uninitiated " are content to remain in ignorance. Within the last
twenty years, some of their sacred books have, by the fortunes of war,
found their way into Europe, and several have fallen into the hands of
our missionaries. As yet, however, no complete system of faith or rule
of duty has been ascertained. A few articles of no great importance
were found, one of which makes it lawful for a Druze to dissemble his
faith, by professing to accept that of any person with whom, for the